Alexandria was built in 332 B.C. by the Greek conqueror Alexander the Great as a center for learning.
For 900 years, scholars came to Alexandria to hear lectures from the greatest minds in the ancient world and to study in the huge library.
The lighthouse of Pharos, one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, guarded the harbor. Its marble buildings were meeting places where the ideas of cultures from around the world were discussed.
Alexandria’s rulers wanted to own a copy of “every book in the world.” This often meant stealing books from other cultures and from ships docked in the harbor.
At one point, the collection reached 500,000 books.
Around A.D. 385, Alexandria became the center of a bitter religious struggle.
Theophilus, a Christian bishop, destroyed the temple of Sarapis. Sarapis was a blend of Greek and Roman gods that had been created to unite the city in a common religion.
Theophilus also destroyed a large section of the library for its heathen scrolls.
Alexandria would never be the same. It managed to survive until A.D. 642, when an Arabian army captured the city and destroyed the entire library.
Much of the knowledge of the ancient world was lost with it.